Friday, October 31, 2008

A Little Rocky This Week

But we're still hanging in there. When you're homeschooling, there are so many details to cover in the education, let alone all the tasks that need to get done to keep a household running, let ALONE any of the bigger tasks one might like to address. I'm probably the millionth mother to write this post, but it's true! Sometimes it all just gets a little overwhelming.

Good week, though, in many ways. I became aware of the need to create a schedule we can stick to on a regular basis. I think my kids experience my inconsistency as something that helps them be inconsistent in their own completion of tasks. So, that's my job for this weekend. Make a schedule. I'll let you know how it works next week.

Highlights of the week. Anna-Jessie finished one of her math workbooks/textbooks, which is a good accomplishment for all of us. Joel went with me to my personal training session yesterday afternoon and he and I were instructed to do a tug-of-war, four of them actually, and that was fun. I'll keep it under wraps what our win-loss records were.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Button, Button Update

This group of people has been diligently searching for an answer to my question about what to do with all the paper. I think the trash can is a good suggestion for some, but not all, of my paper. The Genie GS-1930 could probably hold most, if not all, of my paper, but I heard those things are really expensive. I also like the idea of drawing random numbers and taping the papers to chairs, although I'm not sure that's really a very good suggestion for my particular situation.

Good news, friends. I DIDN'T LOSE THE KROGER CARD REPORT. I hadn't received it yet. Isn't that good to know. So, I'm going to dismiss this group of hard-working people and let them go on with their coffee break, or whatever, and keep on working on the problem myself.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Homeschooling with a 2-Year Old

Homeschooling with a 2-year-old is, what would be the word? . . . Exciting! Yes, that's it! Exciting! Let's all pause for a moment to thank the Lord for getting me through another Exciting! day of homeschooling with a 2-year-old making regular contributions to the aural and visual stimulation portion of our day.

Monday, October 27, 2008

OK, I Guess Everyone Must Be Busy

so I'll go ahead and make some suggestions myself.

Keep a basket on the counter to put today's important papers into. At the end of each day, take five minutes to put each paper into its own place, a place you have designated ahead of time, otherwise, you may end up with the result I often end up with -- an EXCELLENT place to put something right now, but later I can't remember where that excellent place is.

Allow yourself some particular amount of time to read an interesting article or magazine. Maybe a week? Maybe a month. But resolve that you will discard the item if it has not been handled within the time frame. Perhaps a post-it with the "due" date on it will be a good visual reminder of what needs to be handled promptly.

For important paper systems, in my case, the flex spending and Kepler's paperwork, for two examples, keep a notebook with the papers filed chronologically and a summary page in the front. (Now, that sounds hunky-dory and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to someone, but is it really possible to keep up with these kinds of systems?)

Use a tickler file. 31 files with the numbers 1-31 representing the days of the month. File papers in the appropriate day, like in the date file you need to mail the item. And put all those items with "due" duates into the tickler file as well.

Realize that you can't read everything. As you are whittling down your piles, think about each item -- why are you reading it? What do you want from it? What do you think you will get from reading this? And what will you do with that info after you read it?

So, that will get me started. Feel free to chime in at any time.

Button, Button, Who's Got the Doggone Kroger Card Report?

I am drowning in paper. If it's not the 9 foot long library receipt, it's the six inch long receipts from Kroger and Office Max and Walgreen's and Lowe's (no, wait, Lowe's receipts are always at least two feet long even if you only buy one thing), Michael's, Target, and if it's not the receipts, it's the wonderful magazines and articles that are crying to be read or the papers I need to keep track of for reimbursements and rebates and returns, and if it's not the articles and rebate forms, it's the adorable pictures and papers drawn and written by my children over the course of their combined 53 years and as you know, FIFTY-THREE YEARS of accumulation is a LONG time.

So, how to get a handle on this situation? I have papers in every nook and cranny, on every flat surface, and in every drawer and file. And, to top it all off, the Kroger report, that I REALLY NEED, is missing. I sort of remember it coming in the mail, and I maybe put it on top of the microwave, and then alertly moved it to the other counter, then alertly put it in the family room when I cleaned off the counter, etc., etc. The problem is, I DO have a Kroger Card file into which I really think I would have put such a thing.

Please, dear readers, all thousand of you, please give me your most pithy, succinct way to get this paper avalanche under control. Oh, by the way, I DO throw a lot of things away. Help Help Help!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

9 Down, 27 to Go - Part II

First of all, no I did not draw this, nor did anyone I know. I just liked it because it is an image of a student and I had a couple extra students for part of the week this week.

A serendipitous occurrence on Monday. Instead of leaving Eli and Anna-Jessie home with Kepler, I took them with me to PEP. Wow, was it ever nice to get five solid hours of work done on Monday, rather than expecting them to work on their own and feel like I'm not really getting off to a very good start. So, new schedule starting this week -- they will go along to PEP as well. Kepler will stay here with my sister.

I had two of my friend's children here from Saturday night to Wednesday afternoon and since they are homeschooled, I just added them right into the mix. I enjoyed having them here and teaching them along with my own kids.

A highlight of the week was Tuesday afternoon when I took the four of them, plus Kepler, plus Joel, over to the park to do the parcourse, take a walk and play on the playground. These children have known each other since birth since their mothers have been best friends for many years. I loved watching them walk down the path, the two boys with their heads together talking, and the two girls side by side smiling and laughing. At the end of the walk and the parcourse the playground waited for us and this was Kepler's favorite part. Kep got brave enough to slide headfirst down the tube slide and then he did it over and over, yelling gleefully as he slid down.

It was a beautiful day with the leaves turning and a little feeling of fall in the air.

STILL love the curriculum and what we are doing this year. I have realized though that my goal of completing the 900 hours of instruction as the state requires may not work out to 27 more weeks. 27 more weeks takes me to the end of May, which is when I would like to finish for the year. I'm not averaging 25 hours per week yet, so that's something to work on. But we sure are learning a lot.

Friday, October 24, 2008

9 Down (Standing in a Puddle), 27 to Go (Water, Water Everywhere) Part I

These rules came in handy this morning (although I was tempted not to follow #2), the morn upon which I was going to stride purposefully forth homeschooling every spare moment. Alas AND alack, helpful son #1 let me know we had a flood in the basement. It didn't occur to me to use the flood as an object lesson for my students -- properties of water and whatnot. All I could think was "ohboyohboyohboy what am I going to do?" Greg was, this morning, still in Alabama, and alas and alack again, my decluttering efforts in the basement are in SERIOUS need of attention so I had to move stuff and pick up dripping things and shove stuff out of the way and ponder why in the world the drain wasn't draining and wonder how I was going to get this water cleaned up.

Chortling now, I'm remembering that I had the idea that I was going to CLEAN UP the water, and make a serious dent in the decluttering today and maybe even homeschool a bit on the side. Delusional.

It's raining, first of all, and after the initial jolt of adrenalin keeping me floating above the ground as I bantered with the children and cooked them a hot breakfast, my natural nesting instincts kicked in and I needed a nap really bad.

I vacuumed up a bunch of water -- 4 seconds at a time because it would fill up my vacuum basin in that amount of time, but had to run because one of my children had to go to the DOCTOR (always so inconvenient! jk joel) and by the time I got home, ate some lunch, and had the all-important nap, I discovered the water had gone away all by itself. Maybe the drain just wanted some privacy. Alas and alack for the third time, some of the water had SEEPED under Valerie's wall into her carpet and padding. Oh joy.

You know, it's amazing how exactly much stuff one child can place in a room. So, after about 50 trips across the room, I got the desk moved and all of its accompanying detritus. Pulled up the carpet, looked at the soaking wet padding, slowly stood up, backed out of the room, and came to do a blog post.

As for educating the little sponges this week, stay tuned for the next post where I tell you all of my adventures.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

8 Weeks Done, 28 to Go

Well, here I am 40% through this week and I haven't even written my post from last week! Truth is, it wasn't the best week we've had this year. I mean, it was still a pretty good week, but I didn't get that many hours in. Every so often I get kind of tired of persevering and striding purposefully forth with making sure that I homeschool each and every available minute. When that doesn't happen, sometimes I start feeling guilty about not doing enough, and eventually that feeling becomes extremely pesky and burdensome.

I mean, at any given moment, I feel like it is REQUIRED for me to be attending to more than one thing and last week I was trying to figure out if it is possible to do what needs to be done and not just be on autopilot. It's hard to ever stop to breathe or smell the proverbial roses when I am running a marathon where there is a finish line and/or a deadline.

So, this was a week where I added in a few extra things, and ended up reaching the limits of what I could attend to and get done. But I ended the week with an overnight visit to my BFF and that was a wonderful pick-me-up encouraging time.

Highlight of the week was probably staying home Thursday morning instead of going to Kepler's play group, in order to re-group and have a minute to catch my breath. Also, we had the extended family October-birthday birthday dinner and after we eat, I led the group in playing a couple of the theater games I played with my kids a few weeks ago. It was extremely enjoyable to see everyone, even the normally reticent, joining in and laughing uproariously.

Still love the curriculum. Still love homeschooling. This week, trying to get everything done felt very tricky, but seeing as I am writing this in the NEXT week, I can guarantee you that THIS week is going much better!

Friday, October 17, 2008

13 Years Ago Tuesday (Told You I Was Busy)

I guess we were all a little shell-shocked right after the birth
Eli has had time to get used to being in the world.
Child of the 90's: Doing JumpStart Toddlers while in the high chair. (Love the computer stand?)
Eli has always loved helping with the laundry (well, not so much anymore).
Living the life of a gardener to its fullest.

Eli was born, five days after his due date, and not a moment too soon. Since Joel had burst into the world with a mere 3 hour labor, and the hospital was 1 hour away, we erred on the early side with Eli. Labored all night and said hello to him at 5:30 in the morning. One of the noteworthy aspects of that hospital stay was that because of the time he was born, and the time of day I left the hospital, although I arrived Friday minutes after midnight, and didn't leave until Sunday afternoon, our insurance only had to pay for one day of hospital care.

At only 9 lbs 12 oz, he seemed small compared to the first two. Of course, he wasn't small -- I noticed that at about 5:35 am, but all babies seem very tiny at the beginning.

Eli brings so much energy and joy into our lives. He is a passionate boy who feels everything at least twice as deeply as most other people I know. This makes for some REALLY high highs, and some really low lows. But how sweet to see this boy taking care of his little brother -- they seem to have a special bond, and I love to hear Kepler laughing at Eli's antics.

Eli has always loved colors. Much of his artwork is filled with intense colors, especially purple, and he often fills every inch of the canvas. He certainly does know how to get the most out of an experience.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The worst Blogger in the World . . .

is CERTAINLY not yours truly! And yet, my blogging frequency has dwindled, declined, tapered, withered, slacked off. Could it be that I am BUSY? All I know is I had to cancel an appointment today in order to have a day to do some of those little pesky things like clean the utility sink (for real), cut another section of Kepler's hair, place an order long overdue, and other similarly exciting and important things.

Here's the thing. I am sure I am the 7,600,428th blogger to post a similar post (you know: golly i can't think of anything to say so i am posting that really important fact). Actually, in my case, I don't think it's not having anything to say, as much as just trying to find the time to say it.

To prove my point, I will now write multiple posts which will post at pre-ordained times over the next one or two or even three days and you can again be treated to some of Siouxsie's Musings.

Friday, October 10, 2008

7 Weeks in the Basket, 29 to Go

What a great week!

I am convinced that my continuing practice of doing "morning pages" is making a huge difference in how my days go. (In Julia Cameron's words: : The morning pages are three pages of stream-of-consciousness longhand morning writing. You should think of them not as "art" but as an active form of meditation for Westerners. In the morning pages we declare to the world—and ourselves—what we like, what we dislike, what we wish, what we hope, what we regret, and what we plan.) Getting all the cobwebs out of my brain first thing in the morning seems to be making me much more able to be creative and energetic all day long.

Friday is always my big homeschool day because every other day is interrupted at least once by some appointment.

I think the highlight of the week was two-fold. First, an emphasis on seeing God as loving, and fitting everything else into that understanding (or not fitting it, but having that understanding). Second, an ongoing discussion about love which expanded into several things, including a persuasive essay activity where the kids created dialogues between two people who held differing viewpoints on what they were trying to be persuasive about. These two kids so love to be creative. They got behind closed doors and worked and worked on their dialogues. Then they both crammed into one desk chair and typed up the dialogues. Finally, they performed them for me, and later for Greg. Don't tell anyone, but I was actually persuaded!

Had some GREAT discussions that arose from several books we are reading, and we were lucky enough to have Joel in the room while we read the very biased history book, which is pretty strong on talking about how bad the European explorers were, and minimizing any bad things that the Native Americans did. Joel was pretty amazed at how much the book left out. So, he gave us a little history lesson, too.

Still love the curriculum. Love teaching the kids. Best year ever homeschooling.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Happy Birthday to . . . . ME!

My sweet Anna-Jessie posted on her blog today and wrote a very lovely post about me. Here it is.

This is the best birthday I have ever had. I am happier than I have ever been in my life. I have a huge sense of being blessed, with my husband, my kids, my family of origin, my best friends, my other friends, the job I have as full-time mom, my health, my humor and just being glad to be me.

Sidenote: In searching the internet for this post's illustration, I saw that there is actually an entry in wikipedia for the number 47. Wow, who comes up with this stuff? Who has time to figure out or notice where this number shows up in astronomy, movies, television, etc? I did enjoy finding out it is the 15th prime number. And now you know.

Happy Birthday to everyone else born 10/4!

6 Weeks Fulfilled, 30 Weeks Yet to Fill

Aha! The truth is, some weeks are more noteworthy than others. This week would be an "other." We worked on spelling, history, math, math, math, writing, grammar, physical education, geography, civics, government, typing, computer skills, good citizenship, and some of our group worked on working steadily while mommy went to work out.

Well, I STILL love the curriculum I have chosen, I am STILL pleased with the progress we are making, and I am STILL glad to be homeschooling. I THOUGHT about taking pictures this week.

The highlight of the week this week: we decided to walk to the park today, we being Eli, Anna-Jessie, Kepler, and me. Kepler's legs are only about thiiiiiiiiis long so he doesn't walk fast. And we took a new path through the front yards of our neighbors instead of walking on the street. Our neighbors have such interesting climbing trees, and little walls by the driveway that one can JUMP off of. So instead of making it all the way to the park, we only made it three doors up the street, but we certainly did have a good time. I wisely added in a trip to the library for the edification of my students and because I knew Kepler would fall asleep, which he desperately needed to do.

So, it's not all algorithms and alphabetical order and gerunds and split infinitives around here. Sometimes it's also exploration, and sunshine, and experiential education. And sometimes, it's both!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Five Days Since My Last Post?!?!

What in the world have I been doing?

Well, the truth is, another has stolen my heart, or at least my attention for the time being. I set up a blog for our homeschool organization this week and it took some doing to get an email sent out to everyone about it. Feel free to check it out right here. I promise I will be more thoughtful, trustworthy, and regularly posting.